Gobi, Malaysia Venture to Focus on Southeast Asia With New Fund

  • Gobi Partners, Malaysia Venture introduce $14.5 million fund
  • New fund to invest in 25-35 startups across Southeast Asia

Gobi Partners, one of the first Chinese venture capital firms to make inroads in Southeast Asia, is looking to invest in as many as three dozen startups with a new $14.5 million fund that will target emerging technologies.

Malaysia Venture Capital Management Bhd., the country’s largest venture firm with $300 million in assets under management, announced the SuperSeed Fund with Gobi on Thursday. They will seek to invest in 25 to 35 early-stage startups across Southeast Asia over the next three years.

Gobi’s interest in the region represents a broader appetite among investors who are seeking to capitalize on the region’s rising incomes and mobile Internet boom. The number of venture-backed deals in Southeast Asia almost doubled to 71 in the fourth quarter of 2015, even as funding cooled across the globe, according to reports by KPMG and CB Insights.

Thomas Tsao, a managing partner at Gobi Partners, calls the hottest part of the region IPTV, for Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, a play on the acronym for Internet protocol television, or TV that’s delivered via the Web. Investors need to pay more attention to the four countries, which have more than 550 million people, Tsao said.

“These are four huge consumers markets, and we call them the IPTV market,” Tsao said. Gobi, which has backed 22 startups, divides the 10 nations in Southeast Asia into three groups: mature markets such as Singapore and Malaysia, IPTV and a frontier market that includes Myanmar.

Gobi began turning to Southeast Asia after noticing some of the Chinese startups in its portfolio, including photo-application Camera360, were seeing a surge in the number of customers in the region.

“We were like, ‘Wow, this is something we need to pay attention to,”’ Tsao said.

The Gobi-Malaysia venture fund will focus on Internet and mobile technology startups in areas including big data, cloud computing, content and digital media, e-commerce, financial tech, Muslim innovation and online tourism, he said.

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